Kolkata: Patients heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday after junior doctors resumed work at all state-run hospitals following their week-long stir that had disrupted healthcare services across West Bengal.
All the 14 medical college and hospitals in the state started functioning, with normal work resuming at outdoor facilities, pathological units and other departments.
The patient turnout was high at all the hospitals, including the Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital, which was the epicentre of the junior doctors' agitation.
"Most of our colleagues have resumed work and they are helping the seniors in delivering regular services in the outpatient departments (OPD) since Tuesday morning," a spokesperson of a joint forum of junior doctors told PTI.
Since many junior doctors were in Kolkata to take part in the agitation, they could not reach their workplaces in far-off areas on Tuesday morning, he said, adding, "They will resume work as soon as they reach the hospitals."
"It is a relief for us. We are poor and have no other option but to go to government hospitals. The stir had impacted our treatment. I am happy that it has been called off," said Ariful Haque of Malda district, who regularly visits the NRS hospital for the treatment of his brother's cardiac ailments.
Santanu Hazra, a thalassaemia patient undergoing treatment at the SSKM Hospital in the city, was also happy with the doctors calling off their agitation and rejoining work.
"It was a terrible experience last week when I had to go back home almost everyday due to the agitation. I am financially not that sound to visit private hospitals. I am happy that my treatment has resumed," he said.
Burdwan Medical College, College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital, Midnapore Medical College and Hospital, Kharagpur Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, Malda Medical College and Hospital, among the other super-speciality hospitals also witnessed a huge turnout of patients since the morning.
"Huge number of tickets was issued from most of these hospitals and doctors had a very busy time today. Patients' footfall was almost thrice today," Malda Medical College and Hospital Principal Prof (Dr) Partha Pratim Mukhopadhyay said.
Private hospitals, which witnessed a low patient turnout with most doctors taking leave on Monday owing to a strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), also saw a normal inflow of patients.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma held a meeting with senior police officers in connection with the security related decisions taken during the junior doctors' meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the secretariat on Monday.
Decision was taken to launch a portal and an app for lodging complaints by doctors and staffs on duty in case of any unwanted behaviour by patient or patient's family.
The junior doctors called off their week-long strike on Monday night after meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who assured them of steps to scale up security at the government hospitals in the state.
The medics were on strike since last Tuesday, protesting against the assault on two of their colleagues by the kin of a patient who died at the NRS Hospital and Medical College.
Principal of NRS hospital Prof (Dr) Saibal Mukherjee said, "Doctors are having a busy time at the OPDs. The patients had come here last week but could not be attended to due to the agitation. We are trying our best to treat most of them as it is our duty to serve them."
Senior police officers in the rank of assistant commissioners, along with adequate force, are stationed at hospital premises to keep a check on the situation, as per the demands of the junior doctors.
At an hour-long televised meeting with the representatives of the junior doctors on Monday, Banerjee announced a number of steps, including asking the police to appoint nodal officers for the security of doctors at all government hospitals in the state, following which the doctors agreed to call off the stir.
They had received support from across the country. On the call of the IMA, medics in Delhi and other states stayed away from providing non-emergency healthcare services on Monday.